Drive Time and Its Impact on Your Workforce
by Troy Schrenk
In remote worksites, food and shelter are the basic necessities of life. Responsible employers understand how better sleep, health and morale contribute to safety and productivity. But when it comes to housing, there’s a critical factor that might not be considered: drive time. A short commute to the work site isn’t just nice to have—it’s a necessity.
It’s well-documented that fatigued workers run a higher risk of accidents. Shifts of no more than 8 to 12 hours, along with adequate breaks, are crucial and usually mandated by laws and regulations. But what if long commute times each way are added to that? In remote worksites today, many workers might drive as long as two hours to get to their jobs from their accommodations in the nearest town. It’s a problem that puts whole projects in jeopardy.
The domino effect of long commutes.
More time spent driving is less time spent sleeping or enjoying downtime…and that not only has a negative impact on workers, but whole projects. Long drive times create a domino effect: Inadequate rest, long-term health problems, low morale and apathy about the work at hand. This, in turn, can lead to lower productivity and increased risk of accidents.
Sleep—or the lack of it—impacts workers.
Less sleep leads to poorer workforce heath and more risk. The quality and quantity of sleep directly impact concentration, judgment and reaction time. Research bears this out: recent studies say that 1 in 4 workers in the U.S. are so consistently tired on the job that it costs employers the equivalent of 7.8 days of lost productivity. That’s lost time no project can afford.
Downtime, recreation and morale.
With lack of sleep and downtime comes low morale. Today’s younger workforce—Millennials as well as Generation X—are less likely to tolerate a lower standard of life. This is true even for remote workers. Time and space for relaxation are vital. As Christopher Wanjek states in his white paper, Workforce Housing and Feeding Solutions for Health, Safety, Productivity and Morale:
“Although less scientifically defined as nutrition and less regulated than work breaks, relaxation — that is, the aforementioned comforts during non-working hours — is seen increasingly as being as important as nutrition and work breaks in preventing accidents and in ensuring a healthy, motivated and rested workforce.”
There’s a third factor that makes reducing drive time more important: reducing traffic. Traffic jams aren’t just a big-city problem. Worker cars on inadequate roads can put a strain on local infrastructures. Not only does that have a negative effect on the surrounding community and the environment, but more traffic means even more drive time. Everybody loses.
Addressing the drive time problem
Even a well-designed workforce solution will suffer if workers drive for hours to their work sites. Target Lodging approaches the problem by offering superior modular accommodations that are quick and easy to set up near critical worksites; we also provide shuttle buses at our sites where needed, taking cars and workers off the road.
Long drives can cause big problems in remote sites. Today’s company, with an eye on the bottom line and workforce well-being, needs to take commute time into account when thinking about housing solutions. It simply makes sense—after all, drive time is lost time.